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Zamboanga City News September 2013

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Rehab of war-ravaged areas in Zamboanga City starts in 2 weeks


MANILA, Sept. 30 (PNA) -- With the standoff in Zamboanga City officially over, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Monday announced that reconstruction and rehabilitation of war-ravaged communities will start within 10 to 14 days.

"Rehabilitation and reconstruction will start within 10 to 14 days. Mopping up operations (for unexploded munitions and stragglers) are still ongoing as of now," he said in radio interview.

Gazmin added that mopping up operations are being conducted by police with the military just playing a supporting role.

The DND chief stressed that the national government will extend every possible assistance to the Zamboanga City government to ensure that the damages inflicted on the locality will be repaired as soon as possible.

DSWD unites with Habitat for Humanity, Gawad Kalinga and AFP Eng'g Brigade for construction of temporary shelters for affected Zambo families

By Leilani S. Junio [(PNA), CTB/LSJ]

MANILA, Sept. 29 (PNA) -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said Sunday that it is closely coordinating with the Habitat for Humanity, Gawad Kalinga and the AFP Engineering Brigade for the construction of temporary shelters to jumpstart the rehabilitation of families affected by the siege in Zamboanga City.

“Since the President has released a budget of P3.9B for rehabilitation and early recovery, we want to implement ways on how best to respond to the needs of the affected families, especially in the provision of permanent shelters to those who lost their homes,” said DSWD Secretary Corazon J. Soliman

Secretary Soliman added that groundbreaking ceremony will be held on October 5 in Barangay Taluksangay for the construction of bunkhouses, as well as in Barangay Talon-Talon for the construction of a two-storey school building.

Soliman disclosed that as an on-going effort to prepare the evacuees for the rehabilitation stage, DSWD is conducting Family Development Sessions inside the evacuation centers, wherein around 5,000 Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiaries are also staying.

“In the FDS, small groups of displaced individuals come together and share their experience and plans for their future,” she added.

The DSWD chief stressed that the needs and aspirations of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have to be considered for the Department to come up with a better and appropriate rehabilitation plan suited to their needs.

She added that skills trainings are also being conducted in partnership with Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

“At present, bead-crafts making and reflexology/massage training is held at the Livelihood Tent. All the bead-products made by the trainees, which are key chains and wallets, will be bought by the Department,” the secretary said.

She added that psycho-social interventions, day care service and supplemental feeding are also continuously being done in all evacuation centers.

She reiterated that relief operations will still continue, as the rehabilitation plan is implemented.

As of September 29, the Department has provided a total of P99.499 million worth of relief augmentation assistance to the affected families.

Moreover, Zamboanga City Mayor Isabelle Climaco, in a recent interview, expressed her gratitude to President Benigno S. Aquino III for the latter’s leadership and support towards the rebuilding of a better Zamboanga City.

She also thanked Secretary Soliman for the Department’s rehabilitation plan for the displaced families in the armed conflict.

Health officials vaccinate 1,359 children at Zambo evacuation centers


ZAMBOANGA CITY, Sept. 28 (PNA) -- Health officials have vaccinated 1,359 children aged six months to 15 years old to protect them from viral diseases while being sheltered at the evacuation centers in this city.

City health officer Dr. Rodelin Agbulos said they conducted mass immunization for measles, mumps including polio vaccine.

Agbulos said that the children were also given Vitamin A aside from the immunization.

Agbulos said that pregnant women were injected with tetanus toxoid and nutritional assessment of children are also being done to include deworming as well as given iron and zinc.

Agbulos said the five patients of measles recorded at the sports complex are all recuperating.

There are also three reported cases of varicella or chicken pox, according to Agbulos.

“The patients are being checked daily and provided with medicine. There is also a designated isolation tent to prevent the spread of disease,” he said.

He said that a cumulative of 8,532 individuals or about eight percent of the evacuees’ population at the sports complex have undergone medical consultation.

He said they are conducting tent-to-tent visitation as they are now focus on the prevention of diseases in the evacuation centers.

Meanwhile, Agbulos said they have formed four clusters to look into the present situation at the evacuation centers.

The clusters are the following: health cluster; water sanitation and hygiene cluster; nutrition cluster; and, mental health and psychosocial services cluster.

Surveillance and monitoring of illnesses and deaths has also been intensified to include sanitation, water sampling, and cleaning of portalets, according to Agbulos.

Agbulos said the Fabella Hospital and Philippine Children Medical Center are also set to donate breast milk for babies.

DSWD provides P92-M worth of assistance, prepares for rehabilitation stage


MANILA, Sept. 27 (PNA) –- The Dept. of Social Welfare and Development disclosed Friday a total P92.22 million worth of assistance has been provided to the Zambo evacuees as of Sept 27, 2013.

According to DSWD, the assistance is composed of P88.88 million in food assistance, P2.79 million in non-food items, P302,750 in financial assistance and P247,500 for the cash-for-work program provided in more than two weeks to augment the resources of Zamboanga City Local Government Unit.

Secretary Corazon Soliman once more reiterated that relief operations will continue with the provision of assistance to the needs of the families affected by the armed conflict staying inside and outside the evacuation centers.

Soliman restated that the DSWD and City LGU are now on its transition stage in the provision of food for the families that are still staying in evacuation centers which totals to about 18,225 families or 101,131 persons.

As part of the transition, some evacuees are given the chance to cook the food they want to eat with the DSWD providing the supplies.

“More community kitchens are also being set up in preparation for the gradual shift from the provision of cooked foods, to enable them (evacuees) the opportunity to cook their own food.”

The Secretary further added that the affected Badjaos who are staying along Cawa-Cawa shoreline have articulated their preference to eat their staple food;

“In response to their desire, our social workers have provided them with cassava and dried fish which they cook according to their manner of cooking,” the DSWD chief added.

In consideration of the special needs of women and children, DSWD also set up special Day Care Centers and Child and Women-Friendly Spaces in the evacuation centers.

As of Sept 26, a total 2,945 children were provided with supplemental feeding and engaged with Supervised Neighborhood Play.

The provision of psycho-social and critical incident stress debriefing interventions also continue.

To date, DSWD professional staff debriefed a total of 1,178 evacuees and about 193 released hostages who were all eventually reunited with their families.

She further cited that Technical Education Skills Development has set- up a massage therapy center at the Skills Training Tent to conduct massage and beads making.

Towards rebuilding Zamboanga City, she assures that DSWD is also preparing for the rehabilitation stage of the disaster operations.

“A rehabilitation plan has been drafted amounting to P3.89 billion which includes the relocation, housing, shelter, livelihood, and other assistance for the affected families.,” Secretary Soliman said.

She said the plan has been submitted to the Office of the President and the Department of Budget and Management for funding considerations.

In a recent press briefing, Zamboanga City Mayor Beng Climaco thanked Secretary Soliman and the entire DSWD workforce for their continuous relief efforts and relentless assistance to help build a better Zamboanga.

She likewise expressed gratitude to President Benigno S. Aquino III and the different government agencies for being with Zamboanga City in times of great need.

Lastly, Mayor Climaco rallied the Zamboanguenos to seek justice and work together to build a new and better Zamboanga City.

She added that the city will never be the same again due to the armed conflict.

“But with the help of national government and other partners, Zamboanga will certainly rise anew, an improved City for the Zamboanguenos,” she added.

Frontline agencies convene to tackle early recovery, rehab efforts of Zamboanga victims

By Claro A. Lanipa (PIA9)

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Frontline government agencies involved in the early recovery and rehabilitation efforts of Zamboanga crisis victims convened on Monday at the Sangguniang Panglungsod session hall to plan out the inter-cluster approach spearheaded by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

DSWD Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman said, “it is the desire of the national government to institute and explain to everyone the cluster approach because we are now looking at the early recovery and rehabilitation phase of the affected families.”

Fourteen barangays were affected when the armed conflict between government forces and the ruthless Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighters erupted on September 9. Eight (8) of these barangays were the most affected which resulted in the mass evacuation of residents numbering to 24,794 families with 118,819 individuals as per DSWD record.

“Cluster approach is a mechanism to address the gaps found in the different challenges that we are facing now. It aims to strengthen coordination and determine the first point of call, responsibility and optimize the support of government by complementing efforts between the United Nations, inter-agency standing committee, international NGOs and the national and local stakeholders in responding to the priority needs of the victims of disaster,” the secretary explained.

This approach is composed of four clusters: the relief/rehabilitation led by the DSWD; education by the Department of Education (DepEd); protection cluster by DSWD and health cluster by the Department of Health.

Aside from frontline government agencies, the meeting was also attended by the different non-government organizations and civil society groups who are involved in the relief and rehabilitation of the affected families.

Earlier, the national government had allotted P3.89 billion which was approved by President Benigno S. Aquino III for the continuing relief and early recovery phase of the victims to include educational needs, temporary shelters, permanent shelters supplemental feeding, cash for work and livelihood of the displaced families.

23,000 Zambo evacuees set to benefit in DSWD's cash-for-work program


ZAMBOANGA CITY, Sept. 25 (PNA) -– The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is targeting to provide livelihood assistance to about 23,000 evacuees through the agency’s cash-for-work program.

DSWD Regional Director Zenaida Arevalo said Wednesday that they are finalizing the plans for the implementation of the program to include the identification of beneficiaries.

Arevalo said the beneficiaries’ works would include cleaning up of debris, construction of houses and other works that may be assigned to them.

The cash-for-work program aimed to help alleviate the present financial status of the identified beneficiaries and to motivate them towards productivity and positive work attitude.

Arevalo said that the implementation of the program is set to start as the situation permits.

As of Wednesday, DSWD records showed that 23,794 affected families comprising of 118,819 individuals are still staying in the evacuation centers.

Government forces continue to press on the remaining Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels as the standoff enters the 17th day Wednesday.

Keeping a positive outlook and strong faith amid crisis

By Jocelyn P. Alvarez (PIA9)

ZAMBOANGA CITY - Fourteen days into the crisis, the city, like a victim of a ship wreck, continues to swim into the shore for her life. Zamboanga continues to rise from the wrath and devastation wrought by the breakaway MNLF group of Nur Misuari.

“Gusto ko nang mag-school,” (I want to go back to school), came from the little angel Tania, a 4-year old day care kid who was displaced together with five other members of her family when the MNLF siege happened in barangay Talon Talon dawn of Sept. 9.

“Miss ko na ang teacher ko at classmates . Gusto ko na mag drawing,” ( I miss my teacher and my classmates. I want to draw again) she lovingly whispered as she took out her paper and pencil with few pieces of crayon.

Tania’s mom, Jenny have been patiently tutoring her daughter everyday for two weeks now since the Zamboanga crisis erupted, a crisis that has paralyzed not only the economic activity of the city, suspended classes in all levels, but also practically placed the lives of the majority of the Zamboangueños to a temporary “stop.”

Papa Tan as his daughter Tania would call him, a casual employee, smiled a little and sighed when he checked his ATM card and found that his employer had already deposited his salary amounting to 4,000, an amount he considers a blessing specially at this trying time.

“Hindi tayo pababayaan ng Diyos,” (God will not forsake us) he said. “Minsan, pinapabayaan ng Diyos na mangyari ang mga bagay bagay dahil may dahilan Siya,” (Sometimes, God allows things to happen for a reason), words spoken by a pious man. Despite atrocities, he and his family maintain a positive outlook of how things are going and turning.

“Nandito pa kami ng pamilya ko, buhay, malaking blessing na po yan. Wala man kami sa tahanan namin ngayon, pero darating din ang time na makakabalik kami,” (My family and I are still alive, that alone is a blessing. We may not be in our home right now, but someday we will be able to go back home) with dignity and hope, Papa Tan reflected.

Papa Tan’s family is being sheltered by his sister in nearby barangay Tetuan.

DSWD and faith-based organization help children recover from trauma


MANILA, Sept. 23 (PNA) -- The Dept. of Social Welfare and Development and Victory Christian Fellowship, a faith-based organization, conducted Monday a psycho-social therapy activity to about 500 children in the evacuation centers in Zamboanga City.

The activity is a part of stress debriefing effort to lessen the children’s trauma from the on-going crisis in Zamboanga, officials in Manila said.

During the activity children were provided with play therapy sessions and participated in the interactive fun games, where they enjoyed the performances of the mascots and magicians.

According to DSWD Secretary Corazon Soliman, the activity serves as a coping mechanism to respond to children’s traumatic experiences that caused fear, helplessness, grief, and anger.

Secretary Soliman said that the initiative of the Victory Christian Fellowship complements the stress debriefing, play and art therapy, and Supervised Neighborhood Play services of the DSWD.

“With thousands of children traumatized by the incident, we welcome groups to help us conduct stress debriefing activities. We have to help these children regain their normal social and mental functioning. We could not do this alone, we need the help of partners,” Soliman ended.

Gov't earmarks P3.9B for Zambo rehabilitation

By Leilani S. Junio [(PNA), CTB/LSJ]

MANILA, Sept. 22 (PNA) –The government has earmarked a total of P3.9B for the early recovery and rehabilitation of families affected by the ruthless Moro National Liberation Front-led crisis in Zamboanga City.

This was disclosed by Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) secretary Corazon J. Soliman Sunday, September 22, on her 12th day stint in Zambanga City to oversee the continuing relief operations of the Department.

According to Secretary Soliman, the fund from the government will be implemented through DSWD’s supervision in coordination with the Crisis Management Committee.

Secretary Soliman emphasized that rehabilitation efforts are now being planned out by the DSWD in coordination with the Crisis Management Committee headed by Zamboanga City Mayor Beng Climaco.

According to Soliman, the rehabilitation efforts will immediately commence once the city government of Zamboanga identifies the areas.

“This is a huge challenge to us but the government is making sure that early recovery and rehabilitation efforts are well organized and systematized,” she added.

“We will make sure that we will build back better communities for the affected families,” Secretary Soliman emphasized.

She said that rehabilitation plan for the victims of armed conflict in Zamboanga includes the continuing relief assistance for one month, balik-probinsiya program by providing the evacuees with transportation and incidental assistance.

Also included under the rehabilitation plan are educational assistance to college students, supplementary feeding for children, cash-for-work program, construction of temporary and permanent shelters, and livelihood assistance.

DSWD ensures cleanliness at the evacuation center, distributes hygiene kits


ZAMBOANGA CITY, Sept. 21 -- Secretary of Social Welfare and Development Corazon Juliano-Soliman said that 9,500 hygiene kits (bath soap, detergent, towels, and pails) were distributed to evacuees at the Joaquin Enriquez Sports Complex (Grandstand) in Zamboanga City to ensure sanitation and cleanliness in the area.

Likewise, eating utensils, mats, blankets, and malongs were given to the affected families brought about by the ongoing armed conflict between the government troops and the Misuari faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

The Secretary added that 33 portalet units or portable toilets, to date, were set up at the grandstand complementing other existing toilet facilities in the area. Four more portalet units were put up at the Cawa-cawa Boulevard for the Badjao families. The Zamboanga City Water district and the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) regularly supply potable water to the evacuees.

Meanwhile, Secretary Soliman cited that bayanihan spirit prevails in the evacuation center as local food providers and civil society organizations continue to provide meals for the evacuees. The Philippine National Red Cross provides 10,000 dinner packs nightly to augment ready-to-eat food packs from the community kitchen of the City Social Welfare Development Office (CSWDO) and different food service providers in the city.

The DSWD procured 20,000 packs lunches and another 20,000 pack dinners on September 18, 2013 from the Junior Chamber International (JCI). Some individuals and families also shared packed meals at the evacuation center.

As of September 20, 2013, 12 p.m., 23,794 families or 118,819 persons were affected by the ongoing situation. There are 20,643 families or 111,162 persons staying in 57 evacuation centers.

Some 11,979 families composed of 71,265 persons are currently staying at the Joaquin F. Enriquez Jr. Sports Complex, the biggest evacuation center.

To date, total cost of assistance provided to the affected families reached P37,778,615 from the combined resources of DSWD with P35,397,835, LGUs with P1,000,000 and NGOs and Civil Society with P1,380,780.

Zambo volunteers risk lives to keep evacuees safe, nourished

By Dominic I. Sanchez (PIA9)

ZAMBOANGA CITY - For one meal, eight sacks of rice and 1,500 cans of sardines are prepared by about ten volunteer- cooks at the evacuation center in the Zamboanga City High School’s main campus in barangay Tetuan. The viands would of course vary, but the amount of food prepared remains the same.

There are 2,295 people currently at this center, who are mostly residents of nearby barangay Mampang and Arena Blanco, where the gunfights and explosions have been intermittent but unremitting.

Janet Mohammad who is in charge of the food preparation committee said that the cooks, mostly women have been doing this for an entire week now on a daily basis.

On regular days, you would see them in teachers’ uniform, reporting to work at about 7:00 p.m. and leaving at 9:00 p.m. But now, they have been coming in as early as 5 a.m.; some leave after suppertime at about 9:00 p.m. Some would stay overnight.

Pacifico Dela Cruz, the schools administrative officer said that the evacuees started arriving Thursday last week when the standoff between the Moro National Liberation Front and government forces was at its peak. At one time, bullets would zoom past the vicinity and hit the school buildings.

In spite of the risks, the school teachers have never missed a day in preparing the food.

But cooking is only one of their tasks.

Dela Cruz shared that in addition to the 15 teachers, 17 more volunteers composed of students and members of the school’s alumni association are also assisting the evacuees. Some of them, deputized as “peacekeepers” and armed with two-way radios are assigned to patrol the place alongside the soldiers. The volunteers work round-the-clock, who are in rotation for day and night shifts. They are always on alert since the conflict area is merely within earshot.

Arturo Cabidog Jr. of the City Legal Office has been volunteering since Thursday last week. He is responsible for the arrest of two suspected MNLF men, who came to the evacuation center claiming to be evacuees. Doubting about their responses to his interview, Cabidog asked them to open their bags. He discovered suspicious documents that had orders to “inflict injury if they refused to walk.”

He immediately reported his discovery to the police, who took the two to the Tetuan Police Station for questioning.

Dela Cruz said that the evacuees in this center are properly taken care of. City Social Welfare personnel are present to ensure that their psycho-social needs are met. Day care service is also provided for the children.

Meanwhile, at the neighboring evacuation center at the Immaculate Concepcion Archdiocesan School, 1,298 persons are accommodated. Here, members of the Knights of Columbus Centennial Council are assigned in different committees to see to it that the evacuees are safe and their needs addressed.

In addition to the KoC, members of the local Youth for Christ and the Tetuan Parish Youth Ministry help in preparing seventy kilos of rice for every meal as well as the viands, and distributing this large number of food to the evacuees. Their kitchen is located at the nearby St. Ignatius of Loyola Church, where one stained glass window was hit by a stray bullet.

Like in the ZCHS center, the volunteers here work round-the-clock. Sister Marian of the Biblical Apostolate says that other Tetuan residents help them prepare the food, among others, and that most do not go home for the sake of their displaced brothers and sisters in need.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) reports that as of this time, there are 56 evacuation centers scattered all over the city with over a hundred thousand registered evacuees. The number continuous to increase as each day passes.

The tremendous task of feeding and caring for these people remains and is increasing.

Councilor Myra Paz Abubakar had earlier expressed concern over the supplies and resources from the donors. “It is a reality that resources are depleting,” she said.

But one good thing about Zamboanga in the midst of this crisis is that the city will never run out of good, caring and noble hearts who risk their lives to help those who are victims of the tragedy.

PNoy to stay in Zamboanga until crisis is over

By Roel Pareño (

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III will stay in Zamboanga City until the immediate crisis is over and vowed that the government is ready to respond with a P3.28-billion rehabilitation plan to rebuild the city from destruction brought by the standoff between government forces and the Misuari-led faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

“Pipilitin ko na matapos ang immediate na crisis na ito,” Aquino said.

The president said he would only go back to Manila after operational and rehabilitation plans have been discussed.

Aquino issued this statement after meeting in-bound passengers at the Zamboanga International Airport, which was closed until today. He said the government has prepared P6.1 billion in calamity and contingency fund.

The chief executive said for the rehabilitation plan, the figure is roughly about P3.89 billion to be used in the rehabilitation phase of the affected victims, including the construction of houses for those who have lost their homes.

Aquino said part of the rehabilitation is the establishment of houses, continuing relief assistance, educational assistance for the students who have lost their parents, cash for work, supplementary feeding program, temporary bunk houses while the permanent site for settlement is being established, and livelihood assistance. Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

“The P6.1-billion contingency fund is more than enough. What I like to assure the people is that we have the necessary funds on hand and we ready to take care of that,” Aquino said.

Aquino also lauded the local government and government agencies for their efforts in addressing the needs of the displaced civilians.

And for the remaining rebels, the president said it is not too late yet for the group to surrender.

“Hindi pa huli ang lahat doon sa natirang puwersa ng kalaban. Sa akin mahalaga ang buhay... mahalaga din ang buhay n'yo at hindi pa huli ang lahat para tapusin ito, na bawasan 'yung namamatay o nasusugatan,” Aquino said.

Commercial flights to resume in Zamboanga

By Jovan Cerda (

MANILA, Philippines - Department of Local and Interior Government Secretary Mar Roxas II and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Director-General William Hotchkiss are studying the possibility of resuming daily commercial flights at the Zamboanga International Airport on Thursday.

Roxas said there will be two flights on Thursday once the resumption of flights push through, adding that more in-bound and out-bound flights will be scheduled once flight schedules return to normal.

Flights to and from Zamboanga City were canceled last week after members of the Moro National Liberation Front attacked the southern city, prompting suspension of classes and government work. CAAP cited security reasons for closing the airport.

Roxas said stranded passengers including those with expired tickets should contact airline companies for processing.

He added that passengers should bring valid identification cards in processing as strict security measures are in place.

PNoy assures help for Zambo evacuees who lost homes in fire

By Jocelyn P. Alvarez (PIA9)

ZAMBOANGA CITY - President Aquino has instructed the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to coordinate closely with the Zamboanga City local government for the rehabilitation component of the Zamboanga crisis.

Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman said the President had instructed her to look into matters or ways on how to help the victims specially those whose houses were razed to the ground.

“Tinitingnan po natin kung papano matulungan ang mga kababayan natin na wala ng bahay na mauuwian gawa ng pagsunog na naganap (We are looking into ways on how to help our people who no longer have houses to go back to due to fire),” Soliman said.

She said PNoy instructed her that DSWD assist in the rebuilding of houses for the victims. Sec. Soliman said the President is putting into consideration the victims who have lost their homes in the fire and who do not have the capacity to rebuild their houses.

“We have enough funds not only for the immediate response but we also have funds for rehabilitation,” Soliman assured.

Secretary of Interior and Local Government (SILG) Mar Roxas, on the other hand, said during yesterday’s press briefing, an estimated 850 houses in the areas of Sta Catalina, Sta Barbara, Rio Hondo and Mariki were totally went in smoke in the course of gun fight between government forces and the MNLF-breakaway group of Nur Misuari.

Roxas said the President was here in the city since Friday (Sept. 13) to personally assess the situation.

DSWD assures sufficient food supplies to rising number of evacuees in Zambo conflict


MANILA, Sept. 17 (PNA) -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Monday assured regular provision of food and assistance to rising number of displaced families currently sheltered in evacuation centers in Zamboanga City affected by the one-week armed conflict.

In its twitter account, the DSWD disclosed that as of 2 p.m. Monday, about 16,473 families or 81,806 individuals have been affected by the on-going clash between government forces and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

About 13,028 families equivalent to 67,845 individuals are still staying in 24 evacuation centers situated therein.

The Joaquin F. Enriquez Sports Complex still has the biggest number of family-evacuees with 9,065 families or 50,343 individuals.

The DSWD said it tapped local catering groups and food service providers to ensure regular provision of food to the increasing number of evacuees inside the Joaquin F. Enriquez Sports Complex.

According to DSWD Secretary Corazon J. Soliman, the Department had stepped up measures to ensure sufficient supply of food will be regularly given by tapping local food providers to assist in food preparation in addition to the food provided by the community kitchens established by the city government.

Soliman said she had instructed the DSWD Field Office IX for the continuous procurement of ready-to-eat food from partnered food service providers like Chinitos, Whoopee Burger House, Sunflower Food Center, and small canteens.

"This is to ensure the timely and orderly provision of meals to the evacuees with the elderly, children, and pregnant women as priorities," she said.

"Starting today (Monday), DSWD will provide 80,000 packed foods to the evacuees in the Grandstand to be delivered by the mentioned food providers (40,000 for lunch and another 40,000 for dinner),"she added.

Soliman also noted that the city government is also providing 12,000 packed foods per mealtime while the International Committee of the Red Cross committed to shoulder another 10,000 packed food for dinner.

On Sunday, DSWD, through Chinitos, Whoopee Burger House, Sunflower Food Center, and small canteens has provided 16,500 packed meals for lunch and dinner with a total cost of P825,000.

Breakfast on Monday was prepared by the established community kitchens where 24 sacks of rice and 20 cases of corned beef were consumed.

Soliman is still in Zamboanga City to oversee the relief operations to victims of the more than a week of armed conflict between government forces and rogue elements of the MNLF.

Organization of Islamic Cooperation offers to help in ending Zamboanga City crisis

By Ryan D. Rosauro (Inquirer Mindanao)

ILIGAN CITY, Philippines – The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has offered to mediate in ending the standoff in Zamboanga City between Philippine government troops and forces loyal to Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founder Nur Misuari.

The standoff entered its seventh day Sunday.

“The OIC stands ready to offer all possible assistance to ease the tension and resume the peace process,” read a statement attributed to OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu.

The OIC news release on the Zamboanga siege was posted on its website Saturday.

“The Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is deeply disturbed by the reported resumption of violence that occurred in the city of Zamboanga and other places in Mindanao in Southern Philippines. He condemned the loss of innocent lives and called for calm and maximum restraint to avoid further bloodshed and to allow peaceful resolution to these incidents,” the news release stated.

“The OIC strongly rejects all unlawful acts and expresses its deep concern at the shortcomings that occurred in the peace process which led to the resumption of violence and unlawful acts,” it added.

The pan-Islamic body, the largest international organization outside of the United Nations, has played a key role in bringing peace in Mindanao since the 1970s.

It brokered the negotiations between the Philippine government and the MNLF that led to the landmark 1976 Tripoli Agreement of Peace. This same pact was spelled out in details in the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA). The negotiations for that peace agreement were mediated by Indonesia upon an OIC mandate.

At present, the OIC maintains a special Peace Committee for Southern Philippines (PCSP), chaired by Indonesia.

“The OIC calls for the resumption of the Tripartite Review Process as soon as possible in order to attend to the remaining unresolved issues that impedes the full implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA) to pave the way for a just and durable peace in Mindanao,” Ihsanoglu stressed.

“The OIC warns against the untimely termination of this process as it will create a vacuum that is not conducive to building peace or enhancing security,” he added.

The tripartite review was scheduled to resume Monday, Sept. 16, in Indonesia but the leadership of the MNLF faction led by Misuari asked that it be postponed, according to presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita Quintos-Deles.

It could have been the fifth meeting among the Philippine government, the OIC and the two major MNLF factions to discuss and find ways to enhance the implementation of the 1996 FPA.

A statement from Deles said that the government received last Friday a copy of the Note Verbale sent to the OIC Secretary-General by the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs concerning the postponement of the tripartite review meeting.

Indonesia, which chairs the PCSP, is facilitating the tripartite review of the FPA since 2007.

The request for postponement was relayed to Indonesia by the Chair of the MNLF Secretariat, preferring that it be made in the first week of October.

“It (MNLF letter) stated that the request was made by MNLF Chair Nur Misuari due to the ‘situation in Zamboanga City’,” Deles said.

“We consider it unfortunate that this opportunity for a face-to-face meeting that had been set precisely to discuss the status of the Tripartite Implementation review and the future of this peace process is yet again delayed…We conveyed to the Chair of the OIC – PCSP our concern that this meeting not be indefinitely postponed,” Deles stressed.

“We remain committed to our continuing engagement with the MNLF for the full implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement, in pursuit of just and lasting peace in Mindanao,” she added.

10-K affected Zambo residents to be provided hot meals by PHL Red Cross daily

By Azer N. Parrocha [(PNA) /ANP]

MANILA, Sept 14 (PNA) -- The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) will provide newly-cooked meals for at least 10,000 displaced persons affected by the Zamboanga assault daily, PRC announced in its official page Saturday.

According to PRC Chairman Richard Dick Gordon, PRC with support from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is serving 8,000 liters of water per day.

It has also provided psychosocial support to some 3,000 residents and addressed the health needs of at least 1,000 displaced persons.

Gordon further said that medical supplies and other essential non-food items are to be prepositioned for continuous operations.

Meanwhile, some 96,000 people are affected while 18,000 are now displaced and are staying in nine evacuation centers because of the fighting, reported the Red Cross Zamboanga City Chapter.

The ICRC also provided food parcels, kitchen utensils, tarpaulin for basic shelter, medical supplies, and vital supplies of food to support the continuous PRC shipments of human blood, food and non-food items.

Zamboanga-Sibugay staff and volunteers also arrived at the local PRC to assist in the operation while PRC staff and volunteers also continue to deliver services.

At least 10 PRC staff and volunteers were wounded by a grenade blast while transporting patients to medical stations for treatment.

PNoy visits Zambo City amid crisis

By Jocelyn P. Alvarez (PIA9)

ZAMBOANGA CITY - President Benigno S. Aquino III visits Zambanga City today to assess the crisis that Zamboanga is facing.

President Aquino said his presence here is a show that the military is on top of the situation and that the government forces are doing everything to contain the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) that is sowing terror in the city for five days now.

In his message, PNoy assures that there will be enough food and medicines for the displaced residents totaling more than 23,000 of whom over 14,000 are sheltered at the Joaquin Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex/grandstand, one of the evacuation centers set up in the city.

The president also brought with him almost a thousand boxes of assorted goodies like biscuits, candies and chocolates for the children at the evacuation centers.

During his press conference at the Western Mindanao Command in upper Calarian, President Aquino apologizes to the Zamboangueños as he acknowledged that the present crisis besetting the city is taking long to resolve because “the government can’t rush into the situation.”

“As much as possible we prevent unnecessary lose of blood,” PNoy said.

The President assured the restless Zamboangueños: “not only do we have sufficient forces but we have overwhelming forces, not only in terms of numbers but also in terms of equipment.”

The President said he has already asked Justice Secretary Leila De Lima to look into possible charges against Nur Misuari, the founder and chairman of the MNLF who is believed to be behind all these.

“Inatasan ko na si Secretary De Lima na tingnan kung ano-ano ang pwedeng ikaso kay Nur Misuari (I’ve already ordered Secretary De Lima to look into this and file appropriate charges against Misuari).”

Meanwhile, as PNoy press conference was ongoing, shooting between the military and the MNLF continued at the other side of town and 30 minutes after a fire broke out in Sta Catalina. This was followed by another two fire incidents in two separate nearby areas - Sta Barbara and Rio Hondo.

Eight fire incidents were recorded since the start of gun battle in the city last Monday.

Zamboanga Crisis continues

By Jocelyn P. Alvarez (PIA9)

ZAMBOANGA CITY - The government and the Armed Forces of the Philippines is doing everything they can, risking lives just to safeguard the citizenry. This is the assurance made by city Mayor, Beng Climaco.

Last night, barangay officials and tanods from various barangays together with the police dutifully watched over their respective area by rendering foot patrol and roving just so even for a night their constituent s would be able to sleep soundly, a luxury that most Zamboangaueños missed since the start of the gun fire exchange between government troopers and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Monday.

Mayor Beng Climaco-Salazar instructed barangay officials to advise their respective tanods to wear their proper uniform when conducting barangay patrol.

The Mayor also said, total number of evacuees is recorded at more than 17,000 as of 5pm today with over 10,000 sheltered at the grandstand.

She said their needs including food are continuously being addressed by the City Government thru the City Social Welfare, DSWD and other agencies and volunteer groups. A telecommunication company even set up “Libreng tawag to all networks” at the grandstand to connect the evacuees with their families and friends just so to ease worries even for a while.

Meanwhile, Bankers Association representative assured that all banks have filled up their ATMs with cash for people to make withdrawals.

Majority of the establishments are still close. However, there are already passenger jeeps and tricycles plying the streets unlike Monday and Tuesday when the city was described as a ghost town.

It can be recalled, members of the MNLF infiltrated Sta. Barbara, Sta. Catalina, Rio Hondo, Mampang, and Talon Talon; 5 of the 98 baragays of the city. They sow fear and held hostage several innocent civilians as human shield.

CMC urges business establishments to open

By Michael Vincent D. Cajulao (PIA9)

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Crisis Management Council (CMC) Chair Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar said they requested some business establishments to open so the public could buy foods and basic necessities.

“We’re requesting business establishments to include groceries, pharmacies, and gasoline stations away from the so-called areas of concern to open this afternoon to allow the people to purchase their daily provisions”, Mayor Climaco said during the media briefing yesterday.

Businesses closed shops since Monday after a gun battle between the government troops and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) men under Nur Misuari broke early dawn in barangays Sta. Barbara, Sta. Catalina, and Talon-Talon.

People rushed to Guiwan and Sta. Cruz public markets, considerably far from the areas of concern, bringing with them vehicles to buy a good amount of provisions that they hope would last until the crisis would be over.

People were also seen lining up outside two local pharmacies with convenience stores along Guiwan highway as early as 7:30 a.m. as almost all stores were closed.

Motorists also flocked to some gasoline stations here to make sure that they have fuel to use during emergencies.

Meanwhile, the Bankers Association of Zamboanga also suspended bank transactions since Monday. However, customers can still access some ATM machines. People have also been lining at ATM machines to withdraw cash.

Mayor Climaco-Salazar expressed optimism that the business sector would take heed of her appeal for the sake of the general public.

Although all business establishments located in the heart of the city are closed, a few which are located away from the areas of concern are open. “But a problem may arise if people resort to panic buying, thus, the CMC is requesting them (store owners) to open shops,” said the CMC chair.

Zamboanga City businesses now starting to recover


MANILA, Sept. 10 (PNA) -- Despite the ongoing stand-off among rogue members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the military, local businesses in the area are now starting to recover, the Zamboanga city government on Tuesday announced.

Gas stations, public markets and rural buses were operating as of Tuesday morning.

"Gasoline stations are also open to serve (city) residents. Business operations (are) returning to normalcy," it added.

The Zamboanga local government added that public markets were "open for business" Tuesday to address the residents' food supply needs.

Also, it said rural transit buses were "on regular trips to and from Zamboanga City."

Zamboanga City was virtually shut down Monday in the wake of clashes that killed at least four people.

MNLF forces engaged the city government in a standoff as they took more than 200 people hostage in some villages in the city.

Zambo City mobilizes resources to end crisis


ZAMBOANGA CITY, Sept. 9 (PNA) -- The city government is mobilizing all resources to address the situation brought about by the infiltration Monday of hundreds of rebels loyal to Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding-leader Nur Misuari in some coastal barangays of this city.

“We are in close coordination with our police and military authorities and everything is being done to solve the crisis the soonest possible time with minimal damage to lives and properties,” Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar said in a press briefing at City Hall.

Salazar disclosed that so far six people--one policeman, one navy and four civilians--were killed while 24 others were wounded in the sporadic skirmishes between government troops and the rebels.

“More casualties are reported on the enemy side,” Salazar said without mentioning specific figures.

The sporadic clashes started around 4:30 a.m. Monday when separate groups of MNLF rebels have landed in the shores of this city and were blocked by police and military forces.

Salazar, who chairs the Crisis Management Committee (CMC), said the areas affected are the barangays of Sta. Catalina, Sta. Barbara, Talon-Talon and Mampang.

Reports reaching her office said that some 220 people are being held hostage in the barangays of Sta. Catalina, Kasanyangan and in Mampang, Salazar disclosed.

“I am in touch with President Aquino and the Executive Department and they are monitoring and helping us resolve this concern,” she added.

Evelyn Las Marias, officer-in-charge of the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO), reported that some 600 evacuees from Barangays Arena Blanco and Rio Hondo are sheltered at the sports complex; 847 evacuees at Tetuan Central School and Tetuan Parish Church while several others are at the Talon-talon National High School.

Meanwhile, the city government has set up a command center with hotline numbers (062)992-23-85 and (062)992-31-37 with City Administrator Antonio Orendain Jr. as the ground supervisor.

Zamboanga City police officer-in-charge Senior Supt. Jose Chiquito Malayo and military’s Task Force Zamboanga commander Col. Andrelino Colina are designated as ground commanders.

The police hotline numbers are 117, 166 and +639063680749.

PRO 9, WMSU conduct MEDCAP in Vitali

By SPO4 Dahlan Tidal Samuddin (PNP PIO, PRO9)

Police Regional Office 9 under the leadership of its energetic Director, Police Chief Juanito Bungay Vaño, Jr, in tandem with Western Mindanao State University headed by its assiduous President, Dr. Milbel Ho, conducted a Medical and Dental Outreach mission at Barangay Vitali, Zamboanga City yesterday, 7 Sept 2013.

The said medical outreach, dubbed as “MEDCAP for Peace,” was one of the lined-up activities of the Police Regional Office 9 for the month of September 2013, in connection with the peace advocacy being formulated by the Regional Director.

The conduct of the said medical mission is a manifestation that the Police Regional Office 9 and its leaders are not only confined on matters of internal security and the protection of lives and properties of the community they are serving but concerned about the well-being and physical health condition of their constituents as well.

The Police Regional Office 9 MEDCAP team was spearheaded by Police Senior Superintendent Ramon Martinez Ochotorena, Deputy Regional Director for Operations together with personnel from Regional Health Service 9 and Regional Police Community Relation Division, with Police Senior Superintendent Nelson DC Eucogco, as the Regional Chief.

On the other hand, Dean Carla Altea Ochortorena, a Registered Nurse, the better-half of Deputy Regional Director for Operations and the Dean of Admission of Western Mindanao State University, led the MEDCAP Team that represent the said university. She was joined by the faculty members from the College of Nursing and different colleges of the Western Mindanao State University.

The MEDCAP Team was warmly welcomed by the Barangay Officials of Barangay Vitali led by its chairman, Hon. Jose T Alavar and its constituents. Personnel from Zamboanga City Police Station 1 have provided security during the conduct of the said activity.

The activity was held at the Barangay Hall of the said barangay.

A total of one hundred twenty (120) patients have registered and availed of the dental services by getting free tooth extraction and a total of two hundred thirty (230) patients availed medical check-up and free medicines. Most of the patients were children.

Apart from giving free dental and medical services, the MEDCAP Team has also conducted feeding program and gift giving of groceries to children.

The said activities ended with fruitful result. In his speech the Barangay Chairman of Vitali expressed deep gratitude to the proponent of the said activities, the PRO 9 and WMSU, for the free medical and dental services extended to his constituents. He was hoping that more activities like this would continue to be poured in his barangay in the future.

ZCWD, Celso, LGU inaugurate P91.69M water system today


The Zamboanga City Water District together with District 1 Rep. Celso Lobregat and officials of the Local Government Unit will inaugurate the water system in the west coast area today, September 7, 2013.

The construction/rehabilitation/improvement of the Dumalon Water System was a project initiated by then Mayor and now Congressman. Lobregat,. The assistance of P33,744,412.00 worth of pipes (8,300 linear meters of transmission lines and 45,852 linear meters of distribution lines) was given by the LGU which will be paid back by ZCWD under a recoupment scheme (years moratorium and payable in 20 years without interest) which was part of the Memorandum of Agreement signed by both parties on December 12, 2011.

The balance of P57,955,538 required to fully implement the project, that includes civil works and other project components and the construction of the intake facility and the ground tank , will come from ZCWD.

The project’s source of water is the spring in Dumalon, Barangay Baluno, 28 kilometers west of this city. Source location is about 869 meters above mean sea level.

Water source exploration began in November of 2010 and flow study followed in December 2010 up to March 2011. It took three months (May -July 2011) for the topographic survey to finish and four months for hydraulic analysis (June- September 2011 ).

Plan preparation for the water system project was started in July of 2011, to include design computations that was done from September to November of 2011, and completed in February of 2012. The Engineering Plans was submitted on the same month. Project finally broke ground on August 23, 2012.

The water infrastructure project, intended to boost the water supply capability in the west coast area, is more or less 82.98 % completed as of September 01, 2013. The completion of this enormous project is expected to provide potable water to Barangays Baluno and Capisan and a much improved water service to Barangays Malagutay, San Roque, Calarian, Cawit, Sinunuc, Maasin, Tulungatung and Ayala. Once fully operational, an estimated 40,000 individuals will benefit from the project.

Total project cost is P91, 699,950.

DOE tells public to make energy conservation ‘a way of life’


ZAMBOANGA CITY, Sept. 6 (PNA) -- An official of the Department of Energy (DOE) has urged the public to make energy conservation “as a way of life.”

DOE Director for Oil Industry and Management Bureau Zenaida Monsada made the call as the DOE on Thursday held a multi-sectoral advocacy campaign on downstream oil industry in this city.

Monsada said that part of the energy conservation measure is for the public to plan their trips.

Monsada said for those who owns vehicle they should ensure that their car or jeep are well maintained.

“If the vehicle is not properly maintained, it consumes more fuel,” Monsada said.

She said the trip planning should include navigating on routes free from traffic since “you have fuel consumption but you don’t have the mileage” when trapped on traffic jam.

“So individually or as a group, we should make energy conservation as a way of life through proper use things, not just by using,” she stressed citing the oil price is generally high.

She said the government has no control on the price of oil since it is being imported the reason why there is a need to make energy conservation as a way of life.

Meanwhile, the DOE held a multi-sectoral advocacy campaign on downstream oil industry as the agency aims to create and capacitate a critical mass of communicators/media practitioners that would serve as conduits in disseminating the benefits and developments of the Downstream Oil Industry.

Aside from the members of the media, among those who attended the activity include local government officials from the different parts of the region, the academe, dealers of petroleum products, and other concerned government agencies.

Youth leaders join fight vs. poverty

By Dominic I. Sanchez (PIA9)

ZAMBOANGA CITY - The city’s youth have now enlisted to join in the fight against poverty.

Young student-leaders from nine schools and universities in the city have convened last Aug. 29-31 in a youth camp dubbed the Youth Movement Against Poverty (YMAP): 1st City-Wide Congress at Cecille’s Pension House in barangay Tumaga this city.

The three-day activity, which was spearheaded by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), was designed to organize its youth advocacy arm to combat poverty.

DSWD regional director Zenaida Arevalo had emphasized that the agency cannot fight poverty alone. In addition to implementing convergence projects with the different agencies, DSWD still needs to solicit the support of more advocates from all sectors of society, including especially the youth.

Meanwhile, Narrabelle Bue, regional information officer said that the YMAP aims to open the eyes of the participants to the realities of poverty that millions of families in the country have been facing for so long. “We need the youth to be involved, in whatever way they can,” Ms. Bue said. She added that the youth can be very effective advocates, particularly in promoting social responsibility among their peers, clubs, organizations and various youth groups.

The activity consists of personal reflections, workshops on leadership and advocacy, and orientation on the DSWD’s Tatsulo Convergence Program (composed of the Pantawid Pamilya, Kalahi-CIDSS and the Sustainable Livelihood Program).

Jayson Lim Elias, information officer of Pantawid Pamilya said that camp has stimulated awareness and empathy among the participants on the sad reality that “many Filipinos are really struggling to survive, to send their children to school, to eat every day.”

During the camp, the youth leaders elected a set of officers for their organization which they call “Fuerza.” The following are its officers for 2013-2014: President - Mark Anthony Cabilo, Internal Vice President - Floathy Amiruddin, External Vice President - Matt Dave Lachica, Secretary - Tarhata Sappari, Treasurer - Joben Policarpa-Rojas, Auditor - Yves Xaviery Valero, PIO - Al-Rasid Lim. The following are the focal persons for each school: AMA Computer College - Gloeven Mascardo, Ateneo De Zamboanga University– Melana Ocampo, Zamboanga State College of Marine Science and Technology – Cherubim Lozada, Zamboanga City High School – Jusper Lahaman, Southern City Colleges– Rash Misa, Zamboanga City State Polytechnic College – Robert Aroman, Brent College – Aldimver Sydil, Western Mindanao State University – Al-Rashid Hasaan, Immaculate Concepcion Archdiocesan School – Angelo de Castro.

Meanwhile, Lei Madeline Mohammad, information and communications focal person for the DSWD-National Household Targeting Office said that the YMAP’s next step is to finalize advocacy activities which are to be implemented within the year.

DOH-9 set to receive ISO certification


ZAMBOANGA CITY, Sept. 4 (PNA) -– The Department of Health-9 (DOH-9) has been recommended by the Certification International Philippines, Inc. (CIPI) to be given the Quality Management System Certification or ISO 9001: 2008 this month.

This came about after the DOH-9 has passed the internal quality audit on five major procedures conducted by a team of CIPI external auditors.

The five major procedures are as follows: control of records, control of documents, internal quality audit, corrective action, and control of non-conformity.

Improvement of the physical workplace was also done to include sanitation, cleanliness, sorting of documents, and employees’ self discipline.

DOH Regional officer-in-charge Dr. Nimfa Torrizo said her office went through the process of orientation and dissemination to the different offices in the field for participation on ISO.

An initial gap assessment was undertaken by a team from the DOH central office headed by Assistant Secretary Gerardo Bayugo and Health Human Resource Development Bureau Director Kenneth Ronquillo.

“Certification per se is an achievement however the most important part is the maintenance, sustainability, in its implementation in day-to-day operation of the office because this is not in terms of program implementation but system establishment. Nobody is permanent in this office, but any transaction of business in this office would operate because the quality system is installed,” Torrizo said.

Zambo hospital to build solid waste treatment facility


ZAMBOANGA CITY, Sept. 3 (PNA) -– The government-run Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC) is putting up its own solid waste treatment facility to dispose its waste materials.

ZCMC Chief of Hospital Dr. Romeo Ong said the national government has already approved the allocation of P13 million for the project although they asked for P20 million funding.

Ong said the waste treatment facility will be constructed at the ZCMC compound located at the corners of Dr. Evangelista Street and Veterans Avenue.

Ong said the construction of the waste treatment facility will start this year and is expected to be operational by June next year.

Ong said the construction of the facility is only one of the many proposals they have submitted to the national government through the Department of Health (DOH) for funding.

He said the other proposed projects include the following: fire safety sprinkler system; power generator; digital x-ray machines and other equipment.

He said the other proposed projects were not approved due to lack of funds.

DTI-ARMM starts reforms within organization

By Michael Vincent D. Cajulao (PIA9)

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Department of Trade and Industry-Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (DTI-ARMM) newly installed Secretary Sakiran A. Hajan said reforms are underway in his agency in adherence to President Benigno Aquino III’s national reforms.

“Our direction is to revitalize our office thru structural reforms that will adhere to the reform agenda of President Aquino, under the leadership of ARMM Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman,” Sec. Hajan stressed during the PIA Media Forum last Aug. 30.

Hajan, who was appointed as secretary just over a month ago, said to implement these reforms they would strengthen and iron out the system and mechanism to erase the negative impression about ARMM offices.

“First step is for us to put the right people at the right job. Then, we will identify the various strengths and weaknesses on how to capacitate them, geared at the implementation of programs and projects within the mandate of DTI national office,” he explained.

Hajan added that his office is now concerned with the consumer welfare, a basic program of DTI.

“We are not just concerned about the celebration of consumer welfare month. The most important thing is we need to improve on the implementation of consumer welfare and that it translates to resolutions or ordinances in all ARMM areas,” he pointed out.

DTI-ARMM is also planning to hold a business conference before December to woo investors within and outside the region.

“We want to consolidate the force of businessmen in the region to form a link with other business communities not just in ARMM but from other regions as well,” he said.

Hajan said the reforms being undertaken in ARMM have already attracted big companies to invest there.

Del Monte, according to Hajan, has already invested in Datu Abdula Sangki municipality by opening a 1,500-hectare banana plantation.

“As of the moment, 500 hectares were already being utilized, and they had their first harvest just last June 27. This is a proof that investors are slowly showing confidence in ARMM,” Hajan said.

Hajan asked the help of media partners to spread their advocacy saying, “If ARMM develops, everybody will be happy. Not just us in ARMM but also the neighboring provinces and regions.”

City business tax collection to reach P270M by yearend

By Bong Garcia

The City Permits and Licensing Division (CPLD) expects an increase in the collection of business taxes with the increase in the number of business establishments in the city.

The CPLD has so far issued a total of 2,540 business permits before the January 20 deadline but has been processing permits since then.

The CPLD received some 10,000 applications for renewal of business and new permits this year but more are applying on a regular basis.

CPLD chief Benjie Barredo said the business tax collection for this year will be higher compared to that of last year.

Barredo said they have collected P203 million in business taxes for the first three quarters last year but this year, they have already collected P224 million even though the end of the third quarter is still a month away.

He expects the business taxes collection to reach P270 million by the end of this year.

He said they continue to accept application for business permits and noted that most of the applications are for manpower services and water refilling stations.

He said they have institutionalized a one-stop-shop procedure that reduced the processing time by 30 minutes to one hour from the previous of three days period.

Meanwhile, he said they are also monitoring establishments that are operating without any license or business permits.

He said his office is set to issue closure order next week to 30 establishments for failure to secure business permits.

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